A delightful morning and a group of curious trail users is the perfect combination for a tour at one of the segments of the Paso del Norte Trail, in this case, the Independence Trail. The Independence Trail is a 14-foot wide asphalt trail just short of a mile. The trail provides a recreational space for local residents while connecting them to J.P. Shawver Park and the amenities in the park, including tennis courts, soccer fields, baseball diamonds, and a swimming pool.
The tour started sharply at 10:00 am with Jim Tolbert from Celebration of Our Mountains gave a refreshing introduction to the importance of having these types of events and promoting ecotourism in our region. Afterward, Miguel Fraga, one of our Trail Ambassadors, proceeded to narrate the history of the Paso del Norte Trail and provide a quick overview of the current progress. After a couple of questions and shared excitement, the group proceeded to start the walk.
Our first stop was to learn more about Live Active EP and how this program is promoting better health and wellness by encouraging physical activity, improved nutrition, and strong mental health. For this tour, we aimed to target parents with strollers, and individuals with disabilities to educate them on how the trail can improve their quality of life. Once everyone learned about the many benefits of healthy eating and active living, the group proceeded to the next stop to learn more about the integration of art pieces at the trail.
The group then proceeded to greet one of our wonderful art pieces donated by The University of Texas at El Paso. Miguel explained to the group the many benefits of integrating art pieces at the trail to enhance the experience and create a welcoming environment. Besides this art piece at this location, other segments of the trail have stunning art pieces like the mosaics drawn by YISD students in partnership with Creative Kids located at the Playa Drain Trail segment.
At the last stop, our wonderful trail users learned about the current efforts to increase comfort and appeal at the trail by integrating natural resources, in this case, by planting Chinese Pistache Trees. City and state landscaping officials around the southwest love using this tree because of its endurance, easy-care, and tolerance for high traffic areas. In addition to its ease and care, it produces long-lasting bright bronze/red foliage during the autumn seasons. It is a moderate-growing ornamental tree that will provide shade during the summer, spring, and fall seasons. This is a very good tree that is well adapted to the Southwest region. After a couple of questions and inviting the group to become involved with the trail as either trail volunteers, ambassadors, or donors, the tour ended and everyone went back home with, hopefully, more knowledge than what they came with.